SPRU - Science Policy Research Unit

photo of Ben Martin

Prof Ben Martin

Post:Professor of Science & Technology Policy Studies (SPRU - Science Policy Research Unit, Business and Management)

Telephone numbers
UK:01273 873562
International:+44 1273 873562

Research expertise:
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Professor of Science and Technology Policy Studies

BA (first class honours) degree in Natural Sciences, University of Cambridge, and Kitchener Scholar (Churchill College, Cambridge); MSc ('The Structure and Organisation of Science and Technology'), University of Manchester

Professor Ben Martin studied physics as an undergraduate at Cambridge and science policy as a postgraduate at Manchester. He has carried out research for 30 years in the field of science policy, serving as the Principal Investigator or Project Leader on over 50 research projects and commissioned studies. These have been mostly concerned with the development of techniques for generating systematic information to aid decision-making in relation to science, engineering and technology.

Among the areas in which he has made a contribution are:

  • the first evaluation of ‘big science’ facilities using ‘converging partial indicators’
  • assessments of research performance in ‘small science’ and engineering
  • evaluation of technological ‘spin-offs’ and training benefits from research
  • analysis of position of women in science and factors affecting career development
  • appraisal of impact of strategic and applied research government programmes
  • evaluation of government support mechanisms for research
  • assessment of national research performance, especially the UK’s performance
  • some of the first studies of foresight in science and technology
  • production of first truly comparable international statistics on government funding of academic and related research; comparison of  research inputs and outputs
  • analysis of the factors determining research performance (e.g. economies of scale)
  • different approaches to university research assessment, and use of indicators
  • analysis of links between science and technology
  • nature of research collaboration
  • identifying users (and their long-term research needs) for environmental sciences
  • economic benefits of publicly funded research and rationale for public funding
  • evolving links between university departments and industry
  • changing national research systems
  • impact of social science research on non-academic audiences
  • impact of the Culyer changes on R&D in the NHS
  • changing ‘social contract’ between universities/research and the state
  • analysis of ‘creative knowledge environments’
  • assessment of research in the social sciences and arts & humanities
  • the evolution of science policy and innovation studies
  • research integrity



Since 1996, I have been Professor in Science and Technology Policy Studies at SPRU, one of the world's leading institutions in the area of science policy and innovation studies. I served as Director of SPRU from 1997-2004.

In addition, I am currently an Associate Fellow of the Centre for Science and Policy (CSaP), University of Cambridge, where I was invited to give the Second Distinguished Lecture on 3 March 2010. (A video of this lecture, entitled ‘Science Policy Research – Can Research Influence Policy? How? And Does It Make for Better Policy?', is available on the web.) I am also a Research Associate at the Centre for Business Research, Judge Business School, University of Cambridge.

I have carried out research for 35 years in the field of science policy. I have helped to establish techniques for evaluating scientific laboratories, research programmes and national scientific performance. I was also one of the pioneers of the notion of ‘technology foresight’. More recently, I have carried out research on the benefits from government funding of basic research, the changing nature and role of the university, the impact of the Research Assessment Exercise, the evolution of the field of science policy and innovation studies and the future challenges it faces, research integrity and misconduct, and the organisation and management of universities.

Since 2004, I have been Editor of Research Policy, the leading journal in the field of innovation studies.

In 1997, John Irvine and he were the winners of the de Solla Price Medal for Science Studies.